Awaken the Sleeping Giant Within – The Abe Lincoln Way

May 3rd, 2018

“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have.” Abraham Lincoln, 1854.
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In 1849, after serving one term as a US Congressman, and with no political prospects, it looked like Lincoln would be relegated to the dust bin of history. He resigned himself to the life of a travelling lawyer (a circuit rider). Although he was extremely good at his job, he probably felt despair that his desire for a life in politics was beyond his reach.

In 1854, Lincoln’s life changed dramatically. Under the guidance of his long-time rival,Senator Stephan Douglas, Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, a law which repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820, and changed the way that slavery was dealt with in the United States. Under the Missouri Compromise, slavery was essentially bottled up and restricted to the 13 southern states.

The Kansas-Nebraska Act allowed slavery to expand into the new territories of Kansas and Nebraska, as well as to any other state, based on a majority vote. Lincoln, and other residents of northern states, were outraged that the evil of slavery could now spread like cancer to other states.


Lincoln was awakened like a sleeping giant. To stop this injustice became Lincoln’s all consuming passion.

“The passage of the bill roused me as never before,” said Lincoln (Letter to Joshua Speed, 1855).

A carefully crafted speech delivered in New York City, in 1860, propelled Lincoln onto the national stage like a hurricane, and established him as a credible Republican candidate for the presidency.

What awakens the sleeping giant in you?

If you can tie your deepest feelings to the thing that you do with your life, then you are following in Lincoln’s footsteps, and your life has true meaning.

My Path

Deep inside, I knew that I was more than just someone doomed to spend my life working an 8:00 to 5:00 job. I felt I had untapped skills and potential to write books and to be a public speaker. I started writing books in 2007, in my spare time, while working my regular job. My big opportunity came when I was laid off from my job, in 2010, and I was able to channel my energies into a writing and speaking career.

Focusing on Abraham Lincoln was an easy choice for me. He had long been a hero for me. As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras in 1987, I read Carl Sandberg’s epic book, “Abraham Lincoln.” It was the greatest book I had ever read about the greatest man who had ever lived. It awakened in me the desire to both, become a writer, and to draw closer to Lincoln.

A “Lincoln-ized” Life

I am a short, skinny, balding, hair color enhanced 63-year-old former Peace Corps Volunteer. Abraham Lincoln is a human quote factory. Everything he said is either inspirational, insightful, or funny. Connecting with Abraham Lincoln is the best thing that ever happened to me.

When a radio host asked singer Don McLean, “What is the meaning of your song American Pie?” He replied, “It means that I never have to work again.”

In my case, linking my life with Abraham Lincoln does not mean that I never work again. However, my job is doing what I love most, to help individuals to “Lincoln-ize” their existence. I exhort others to fuse their spirit to that of Lincoln, and in so doing, to live a life filled with passion and purpose.

Coming Presentations:

June 5, 2018. How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny BonesArizona Society for Professional Hypnosis. Scottsdale Senior Community Center,1700 North Granite Reef Road, Meeting Room 7, Scottsdale, AZ, 6:30 pm.

October 20, 2018. How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny BonesPrescott Valley Public Library (7401 E. Civic Circle), 1:00 – 2:00 pm. Prescott, AZ.

 

NOW AVAILABLE!!!

Amazon Link

 

Related Links

Like Abe Lincoln, Be Prepared with a “Quip” or a Bit of Humor

Emulate Abraham Lincoln: Make Each Day Count

The “Secret” Daily Affirmations of Abraham Lincoln

Always greet everyone, no matter what they look like

Employ an Affable Lincolnesque Persona

Be a Generous Listener, as Abe Lincoln Was

Deflect Criticism with Self-deprecating Humor

Always Say “Yes”

Be a Master of Disaster – Ponder the big picture

Nourish humor and tell stories, so people say — “I felt like I had known him/her my whole life and we had long been friends.”

 

Nourish humor and tell stories, so people say — “I felt like I had known him/her my whole life and we had long been friends.”

April 26th, 2018

 

“From the first moment of my interview with him (Abraham Lincoln) I seemed to myself to have been acquainted with him for years. For while he was among the most solid of men I ever met he was among the most transparent.” Frederick Douglass, author and orator.

“I really think that Mr. Lincoln’s propensity for story-telling has been exaggerated by his enemies. I had once the honor of conversing with him, or rather of hearing him converse, for several minutes, and in all that time he only told four little stories.” Sarah Jane Lippincott, author.

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If, like me, you are a stammering Neanderthal when it comes to small talk, the best way to connect with people is to tell a simple humorous story that reveals something about your life. That allows the other person see that you are open and friendly, and they feel comfortable responding to us with openness and friendliness.

The New Girlfriend

My son invited his new girlfriend over to our house for dinner. I made a batch of my heralded spaghetti. When we welcomed her into the house, her handshake was as limp as a wet fish. She only made eye contact with the spaghetti and responded with one syllable answers to the softball questions my wife and I lobbed to her.

To break the ice, I told a story.

I said, “I work as a substitute teacher in an elementary school. Wednesday I was walking my first grade class, in single file, to the library. Everything was going fine until one boy bent down to tie his shoe and all the kids behind fell over him, to the sound of bowling pins falling (in my mind).”

The girlfriend chuckled and the ice started to break. She smiled more, shared information about her family, and was more engaging. At least until our exceptionally friendly dog, Blackie, unexpectedly snatched the spaghetti off her plate.

Nobody saw that one coming.

Blackie, the Wonder Dog

Willie Lincoln – The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree

Of all Lincoln sons, 11-year-old Willie Lincoln’s magnetic personality was most like that of Lincoln himself. Following Willie’s untimely death in 1863, Poet Nathaniel Parker Willis wrote the following article about Willie for The Home Journal. It provides a brilliant example of the prototypical friendly personality. I underlined key phrases.

Willie Lincoln

This little fellow had his acquaintances among his father’s friends, and I chanced to be one of them. He never failed to seek me out in the crowd, shake hands, and make some pleasant remark; and this, in a boy of ten years of age, was, to say the least, endearing to a stranger. But he had more than mere affectionateness. His self-possession—aplomb, as the French call it— was extraordinary.

I was one day passing the White House, when he was outside with a play-fellow on the sidewalk. Mr. Seward (Secretary of State) drove in, with Prince Napoleon; and, in a mock-heroic way—terms of intimacy evidently existing between the boy and the Secretary—the official gentleman took off his hat, and Napoleon did the same, all making the young prince President a ceremonious salute.

Not a bit staggered with the homage, Willie drew himself up to his full height, took off his little cap with graceful self-possession, and bowed down formally to the ground, like a little ambassador. They drove past, and he went on unconcernedly with his play: the impromptu readiness and good judgment being clearly a part of his nature.

His genial and open expression of countenance was none the less ingenuous and fearless for a certain tincture of fun; and it was in this mingling of qualities that he so faithfully resembled his father.

The vivid lessons we learn from Willie Lincoln are that he:

1) greeted others by shaking hands and making a pleasant remark;

2) displayed a graceful confidence;

3) had a genial and open countenance; and,

4) mixed fun and formality together.

Political Humor

There is a distinct difference between the self-confidence of Willie Lincoln and the self-centeredness of politicians. Yet, making fun of the excesses of their fellow elected officials, is a proven way that politicians connect with constituents. Senator Mo Udall, no exception to the rule, (Too Funny to Be President) illustrates this technique in his story about two congressional colleagues.

George Smathers was running against Claude Pepper in a Senate race. In a speech in rural Florida, Smathers did a euphemistic hatchet job on Pepper. Smathers said,

“Are you aware that Claude Pepper is known all over Washington as a shameless extrovert? Not only that,” Smathers went on, “but this man is reliably reported to practice nepotism with his sister-in-law, and he has a sister who was once a thespian in New York. Worst of all,” Smathers said mournfully, “it is an established fact that Mr. Pepper, before his marriage, practiced celibacy.”

Everybody can relate to the pompous and self-absorbed nature of politicians. Like the kitten that attacks its own image in the mirror, it is reliable approach to share humor and to connect with others.

As Will Rogers observed,

“About all I can say for the United States Senate is that it opens with a prayer and closes with an investigation.”

 

Upcoming Pesentations:

June 5, 2018. How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny BonesArizona Society for Professional Hypnosis. Scottsdale Senior Community Center,1700 North Granite Reef Road, Meeting Room 7, Scottsdale, AZ, 6:30 pm.

October 20, 2018. How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny BonesPrescott Valley Public Library (7401 E. Civic Circle), 1:00 – 2:00 pm. Prescott, AZ.

 

NOW AVAILABLE!!!

Amazon Link

 

Related Links

Like Abe Lincoln, Be Prepared with a “Quip” or a Bit of Humor

Emulate Abraham Lincoln: Make Each Day Count

The “Secret” Daily Affirmations of Abraham Lincoln

Always greet everyone, no matter what they look like

Employ an Affable Lincolnesque Persona

Be a Generous Listener, as Abe Lincoln Was

Deflect Criticism with Self-deprecating Humor

Always Say “Yes”

Be a Master of Disaster – Ponder the big picture

Awaken the Sleeping Giant Within – The Abe Lincoln Way

Be a Master of Disaster – Ponder the big picture

March 31st, 2018

“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have.” Abraham Lincoln, Speech in Peoria, Illinois, 1854.

“Mr. Lincoln retained through life all the friends he ever had, and he made the wrath of his enemies to praise him. This was not by cunning or intrigue in the low acceptations of the term, but by far-seeing reason and discernment.” Leonard Swett, Attorney

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 There are underlying rules that govern how life works. They may not always be readily apparent, but still they work. Yet to some of us, the fundamental rules of life often seem like a mystery. Like when the grandson asked Grandpa,

Grandpa

“How soon will I be old enough to do as I please?”

“I don’t know,” replied Grandpa. “Nobody has ever lived that long.”

A Slip but Not a Fall

After a loss to Stephen Douglas in the senatorial election of 1858, Lincoln slipped on a patch of ice in front of his house. His legs went out from under him, but he put out his arms as he fell, and caught himself before his body hit the ground.

“It was a slip but not a fall,” he muttered. His face was lost in thought and he repeated, “a slip but not a fall.”

“A slip but not a fall.”

To Lincoln, it was an omen that his loss in the senatorial election did not end his chance to be nominated for president. Lincoln saw that his chances were still strong to win the Republican nomination for president. It helped that his fame had spread like wildfire after the publication  of transcripts of the Lincoln-Douglas debates in national newspapers.

Mastering Disaster

In Abraham Lincoln’s world, virtually any obstacle was viewed as a stepping stone, or a lesson, to prepare him for the great things that he expected to happen in the future. If we view our own lives, like Lincoln did, as having meaning and purpose, then we too can frame all of our experiences (negative or positive) so that they always appear to be beneficial to us.

As Alberto Villoldo (The Four Insights) said,

“History is not what actually happened, but how you choose to remember it –that is, how it lives within you.”

Dealing With the Worry Monster

I am someone who sometimes (almost always) worries too much. For example, one

The worry monster

day the exterminator was coming to kill some ants in a rental house I own, at 10:30 AM. I couldn’t be there as I had a job as a substitute teacher that day, so I worried that the tenant would not be there when the exterminator arrived and I’d be charged for a visit.

I also worried that, if the tenant were there, the exterminator would overcharge me because I’m not there to supervise him. I worried about this all morning as I was teaching. And what  did all this worrying accomplished? Not much, except my stomach hurt because I’d been worrying so much.

If I look at the big picture, I would ask myself, “What is the worst thing that could happen?”

1) The exterminator arrives and the tenant is not there, so the exterminator comes back next week.

2) The exterminator charges a little more than usual, but he’s been there before so I know the standard rate. He can’t deviate too much from that.

At the end of the day, the worst that happens is I lose a few bucks and the ants get killed next week. No big deal. It’s not worth getting a stomach ache over. Everything will still get done. The world will not stop spinning.

I took a deep breath.

The long range goal for my rental houses is to hold onto them another 10 years, and then sell them to fund my retirement. As long as I have paying tenants living in the rental houses, the planets are lined up. Everything else, including exterminating ants or even a late rent payment, is just a minor detail.

I start to feel better when I think about it that way.

Patience Keeps the Worry Monster at Bay

Picasso

Pablo Picasso famously said,

“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”

Yet, to be a “Master of Disaster,” sometimes it’s better to exercise patience, and to let things unfold at their own pace.

 

 

 

Upcoming Pesentations:

April 14, 2018. “Publish or Perish.” Pen to Podium Toastmasters. Hardesty Center, 1100 S. Alvernon. Tucson, AZ, 9:00 am.

June 5, 2018. “How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny Bones.” Arizona Society for Professional Hypnosis. Scottsdale Senior Community Center,1700 North Granite Reef Road, Meeting Room 7, Scottsdale, AZ, 6:30 pm.

October 20, 2018. How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny BonesPrescott Valley Public Library (7401 E. Civic Circle), 1:00 – 2:00 pm. Prescott, AZ.

 

NOW AVAILABLE!!!

Amazon Link

 

Related Links

Like Abe Lincoln, Be Prepared with a “Quip” or a Bit of Humor

Emulate Abraham Lincoln: Make Each Day Count

The “Secret” Daily Affirmations of Abraham Lincoln

Always greet everyone, no matter what they look like

Employ an Affable Lincolnesque Persona

Be a Generous Listener, as Abe Lincoln Was

Deflect Criticism with Self-deprecating Humor

Always Say “Yes”

Nourish humor and tell stories, so people say — “I felt like I had known him/her my whole life and we had long been friends.”

Awaken the Sleeping Giant Within – The Abe Lincoln Way

Offer to help others who cannot return the favor

March 28th, 2018

Abraham and Tad Lincoln

“Lincoln chopped wood for widows and orphans. When he saw travelers bogged down, he stopped to help them.” Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life

“Ab Trout, a poor barefooted boy, was chopping wood one cold winter day. Lincoln came up and asked what he got for the job, and what he would do for the money. Ab said, ‘One dollar’ and pointing to his naked feet said, ‘A pair of shoes.’ Abe told him to go in and warm up and he would chop a while for him. Lincoln finished the work, and told him to go buy the shoes.”  William Herndon, Herndon’s Informant’s

“Lincoln defended the son of the widow Armstrong, in a murder case. Lincoln saved her boy from the gallows. The only possession she had in the world was 40 acres of land, which she offered to give to Lincoln as payment. ‘Aunt Hannah,’ he said, ‘you took me in years ago when I was poor and homeless and you fed me and mended my clothes, and I shan’t charge you a cent now’.” Andrew Carnegie, Lincoln – The Unknown

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Phil made me feel exceedingly comfortable when I first joined Toastmasters. I felt a little awkward at the meetings because I didn’t know anyone. But Phil, a longtime member, took care of that. He was always one of the first persons in the meeting room and every time I would walk in, he loudly announce, “Here’s the professor. How are things going at the university?” It made me feel exceptionally welcome, and put me at ease, even though I was not a professor, but merely a researcher, at the university. Nonetheless, I gracefully accepted the comical promotion that Phil gave to me.

Fast forward five years. Phil falls down and breaks his leg. He goes through surgery and spends weeks in rehab. I visit him virtually every day at the rehabilitation clinic. We wile away the hours chatting, playing checkers and putting puzzles together. Phil, still at the top of his game, at 95 years old, in short order makes friends with the staff and other patients.

Mental note to self: There’s a lot to learn from Phil.

My Sworn Enemy – The Thorny Bush

One of my worst enemies is a thorny bush that blocks a sidewalk which students use

Janette Scott facing down evil plants

to walk to a high school near my house.

I’m pretty sure that it is possessed by the devil. If not cut, branches with huge thorns grow through a fence and force students to walk around it or risk cuts to their arms and legs. It’s even more dangerous at night because you can’t see the branches.

Twice a year, wearing a long sleeve shirt and leather gloves, I fight back against the devil brush branches, like Janette Scott in The Day of the Triffids. I cut the branches and carefully load the large branches into the bed of my truck. The thorns can go right through my gloves, and haul them to a large trash can in the alley behind my house. The last time I did it, I accidently stepped on one of the branches and a thorn pierced through the sole of my shoe and into my foot. Yikes!

I chalk it up as a war injury in my never-ending battle with the sinister thorn bush.

The Lone Ranger

I often do house repairs for neighbors and friends who need help. I’m pretty good at it since I often repair my rental houses. Just last week, Cynthia, an older friend and former neighbor, who had just returned from mouth surgery, called and said,

“Terry, my toilet is leaking. Can you take a look at it?”

“Sure, I’ll be right over.”

I grabbed my tool box, stopped by Ace hardware to buy a toilet repair kit, and drove over to Cynthia’s house.

I ring the doorbell.

“Hi Terry. Thanks for coming.”

“You’re welcome. How’s your mouth feeling?”

“Okay, but sore. I still can’t speak too clearly yet.”

“Did you just say, ‘Okay you bore. I steal cans of peak to clean ear pets?”

“No.”

“Sorry. I was just rattling your cage. Show me where the leak is.”

She leads me to the bathroom.

As I suspected, the fill valve was broken and leaking. I replaced the valve and the flange too, for good measure. It worked like new.

“Can I pay you something?”

“No thanks. I’m the Lone Ranger. Justice is the only reward I desire. If you need anything else, give me a call.”

“Okay. You helped me a lot. Thanks kemo sabe.”

I gallantly drive away with music from the William Tell Overture playing on my cd player. I feel as pleased as punch.

I often get so wrapped up in my own life that I can’t see that other people have problems too. Imagine that! Even a minimal effort on our part to help someone, can have a huge impact on another person’s life.

Love Completely Without Complete Understanding

Sometimes it’s not readily apparent how to help others, yet we can still act.

Like when my mom was near the end of her life. I feel I could have done better, but at least I always tried to be at her side when she needed me the most.

As Norman Maclean said in A River Runs Through It and Other Stories,

“Each one of us here today will at one time in our lives look upon a loved one who is in need and ask the same question: We are willing to help, but what, if anything, is needed? Either we don’t know what part of ourselves to give or, more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted. But we can still love them – we can love completely without complete understanding.”

Upcoming Pesentations:

April 14, 2018. “Publish or Perish.” Pen to Podium Toastmasters. Hardesty Center, 1100 S. Alvernon. Tucson, AZ, 9:00 am.

June 5, 2018. “How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny Bones.” Arizona Society for Professional Hypnosis. Scottsdale Senior Community Center,1700 North Granite Reef Road, Meeting Room 7, Scottsdale, AZ, 6:30 pm.

October 20, 2018. How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny BonesPrescott Valley Public Library (7401 E. Civic Circle), 1:00 – 2:00 pm. Prescott, AZ.

 

NOW AVAILABLE!!!

Amazon Link

 

Related Links

Like Abe Lincoln, Be Prepared with a “Quip” or a Bit of Humor

Emulate Abraham Lincoln: Make Each Day Count

The “Secret” Daily Affirmations of Abraham Lincoln

Always greet everyone, no matter what they look like

Employ an Affable Lincolnesque Persona

Be a Generous Listener, as Abe Lincoln Was

Deflect Criticism with Self-deprecating Humor

Always Say “Yes”

Be a Master of Disaster – Ponder the big picture

Nourish humor and tell stories, so people say — “I felt like I had known him/her my whole life and we had long been friends.”

Awaken the Sleeping Giant Within – The Abe Lincoln Way

Always Say “Yes”

March 25th, 2018

 

“The way for a man to rise, is to improve himself in every way he can.” Abraham Lincoln

“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”  Abraham Lincoln

“Say “‘yes,’ because you never know what an opportunity, no wonder how odd, might bring. ‘No’ closes doors. ‘Yes’ kicks them wide open.” William Shatner, Shatner Rules

________

Always say “yes” to every opportunity, regardless of how preposterous it may seem. Saying “yes’ always leads to new connections and adventures. New doors fly open. New people are met. New ideas are discovered.

Abe says “Yes”

I believe there were two early incidents in Lincoln’s early life, where he said “yes” to

Lincoln as Lawyer

opportunity that set the course for his life. These decisions enabled him to learn to adapt to the vicissitudes of life and to fearlessly push the envelope of his comfort zone.

1) At the age of 19, Lincoln said “yes,” when asked to take a raft full of goods down the Mississippi to be sold in New Orleans. This was the first and longest trip that Lincoln had ever taken. From his experience operating the boat through obstacles, selling merchandise, and fighting off thieves, he developed a strong sense of self-reliance (Herndon and Weik, Life of Lincoln).

2) Lincoln said “yes” when presented with the opportunity to study law. In learning to defend clients in court, he developed the mental strength, to match the physical skills that he possessed.

“Yes” to Peace Corps

I said ‘yes’ in 1985, and became a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras. I quickly learned to adapt to change, especially the first time I felt army ants crawling up my pajama legs. Honduras had its ups and downs. I embraced my teaching job with passion, loved my students, and my experience working in Honduras opened up doors for me later for even more interesting work in other Latin American countries. It even inspired me to write my first book.

“Yes” to Marriage

As an older college student, I said “yes’ to a summer internship at an agricultural research station in central Mexico. At 37 years old, I thought I was the kind of guy who would never get married. I was nervous around women. I thought my ears were too big. But one day, I asked a Mexican secretary for some directions. I mustered up the courage to introduce myself, I said, “Hi. I’m Terry Sprouse and these are my ears.” Unlike me, she was an exceptional conversationalist. A year later, we both said “yes” to matrimony, and embarked on a thrilling adventure together.

“Yes” to Toastmasters

Saying ‘yes’ to join Toastmasters super charged my aspirations to be a writer and speaker. I have published 5 books, each one based on speeches that I gave at Toastmasters meetings and the invaluable feedback that I received from fellow Toastmasters.

Captain Kirk Connects the Dots

To quote William Shatner, the venerable Captain of the Starship Enterprise,

 I nearly always say “yes.”

“Yes” makes the dots in your life appear. And if you’re willing and open, you can

William Shatner

connect these dots. You don’t know where these dots are going to lead, and if you don’t invest yourself fully, the dots don’t won’t connect. The lines you make with these dots always lead to interesting places. (Shatner Rules, 2011.)

Phoenix or Bust

Just a few weeks ago, my wife wanted to go to Phoenix to hear the Mexican female band, Flans. The performance was

scheduled for Saturday at 8:00 pm. I generally don’t like sprawling cities like Phoenix, much less at night. Phoenix is congested, polluted and crime infested, just like in the movie Blade Runner, at least in my own caffeinated mind. I felt queasy about going to Phoenix.

“I have decided, in my infinite wisdom, to go with you to the concert,.” I said to Angy.

“That’s great, O self-inflated one. Bring ear plugs and steel-tipped shoes, because I’ll be doing a lot of screaming and jumping up and down,” she said.

“And I will be the one sitting, quiet as a mouse, next to you, emitting positive

Foreboding Phoenix

vibrations,” I said.

Even though it was outside my comfort zone, I went. And guess what? My ears are still ringing.

Yet, I met some extremely interesting people, I never ever would have met otherwise. I even met an old Peace Corps friend, and most importantly my wife was happier than a tornado in a toupee factory.

I said “yes,” and the dots connected.

Is it just me, or is someone’s phone ringing?

 

Upcoming Pesentations:

April 14, 2018. “Publish or Perish.” Pen to Podium Toastmasters. Hardesty Center, 1100 S. Alvernon. Tucson, AZ, 9:00 am.

June 5, 2018. “How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny Bones.” Arizona Society for Professional Hypnosis. Scottsdale Senior Community Center,1700 North Granite Reef Road, Meeting Room 7, Scottsdale, AZ, 6:30 pm.

October 20, 2018. How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny BonesPrescott Valley Public Library (7401 E. Civic Circle), 1:00 – 2:00 pm. Prescott, AZ.

NOW AVAILABLE!!!

Amazon Link

 

Related Links

Like Abe Lincoln, Be Prepared with a “Quip” or a Bit of Humor

Emulate Abraham Lincoln: Make Each Day Count

The “Secret” Daily Affirmations of Abraham Lincoln

Always greet everyone, no matter what they look like

Employ an Affable Lincolnesque Persona

Be a Generous Listener, as Abe Lincoln Was

Deflect Criticism with Self-deprecating Humor

Be a Master of Disaster – Ponder the big picture

Nourish humor and tell stories, so people say — “I felt like I had known him/her my whole life and we had long been friends.”

 

Places in the Heart

March 19th, 2018

Blackie with her rabbit toy

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt in the heart.” Helen Keller

Let me tell you about my Black Lab dog, Blackie. She is much more than just a dog.

Blackie is my walking companion and she is my best friend.

When I come home from work Blackie runs circles around me like a toupee in a tornado! Wagging her tail with her favorite toy rabbit in her mouth. All the stress from my job melts away.

A few years ago, my mother was in a nursing home, shortly before she passed away. I would take Blackie to visit her. It revitalized her like a shot of adrenalin in the arm.

Blackie would put her head on my mom’s leg and wag her tail as my mom petted her head. My mom’s face glowed with serenity. Blackie was completely absorbed in her dog duty to provide companionship to my mom.

I learned a lot about compassion from Blackie. Compassion was not something she turned on and off like a water faucet. For her, it was a way of life.

The other day, Blackie and I began our usual morning walk around the neighborhood, a ritual that we had done a hundred times. We knew every step of the way. What could possibly go wrong?

Crazy Driver

As we approached the church, I heard a car revving its motor. Rrrrrrrrr.Rrrrrrrrrr.

Suddenly, a pickup truck barreled around the corner like a runaway freight train. We jumped back.

The driver stopped and yelled out the window, “Stay off the road, eh!” He must be Canadian.

I saw the hair on Blackie’s back rise up.

Blackie is a big and intimidating dog, but, on the inside she is a little tiny Chihuahua. She instinctively runs from danger, just like my wife instinctively runs when she sees a mouse.

I said to the driver, “Hey Speedy Gonzales? I have an idea. How about sharing the road with pedestrians, eh!”

The driver stared at Blackie. Blackie stared back. I tightened my grip on Blackie’s collar. Blackie appeared to be preparing to attack the driver, but I know she was actually planning to run away in the opposite direction.

Finally, the driver gave us the one finger salute and screeched away.

I looked at Blackie with appreciation. Even though she was no great guard dog, I felt safer when Blackie was with me.

Blackie and I continued our solitary trek with a little less spring in our step.

A few blocks later I saw someone walking two dogs. One was a big brown dog. The other was a short white dog with a long tail. My heart pounded with excitement.

Memories of Spot, My Childhood Pet

The white dog reminded me of Spot, the pet dog I had as a child. I have fond memories of Spot.

My parents did not like Spot in my room. Some nights I was terrified that somebody was hiding in my closet. I’d wake up my dad and say, “I heard something in my closet.”

Dad came in my room, opened the closet and looked around, a ritual he had done hundreds of times in the past.

“Nope. No one in there,” Dad said.

“But, I heard something.”

SLEEEEP!

“Go … to … sleep.” “S-L-E-E-E-P” my dad said in a deep hypnotist voice while slowly waving his fingers.

My dad left the room.

My father’s attempt to put me to sleep with a hypnotic trance failed miserably. I had no alternative but to secretly let Spot into my room and sleep on my bed. I felt safer when Spot was with me, like I did with Blackie.

Blackie Remembers Mom

As Blackie and I got close to our house, an elderly lady walking a little poodle approached us going the opposite way. As soon as Blackie spotted the lady, her tail started furiously wagging. The lady had white hair and walked very slowly. Blackie thought it was my mom.

Blackie still carries my mother in her heart. As long as Blackie lives on this earth, a part of my mother will still be alive.

At the very core of her being, Blackie knows that the most beautiful things in the world are only felt in the heart.

If you own a dog, I challenge you. Treat her like the noble and kindhearted creation she is.

You will never find a more faithful friend.

 

Upcoming Pesentations:

April 14, 2018. “Publish or Perish.” Pen to Podium Toastmasters. Hardesty Center, 1100 S. Alvernon. Tucson, AZ, 9:00 am.

June 5, 2018. “How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny Bones.” Arizona Society for Professional Hypnosis. Scottsdale Senior Community Center,1700 North Granite Reef Road, Meeting Room 7, Scottsdale, AZ, 6:30 pm.

October 20, 2018. How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny BonesPrescott Valley Public Library (7401 E. Civic Circle), 1:00 – 2:00 pm. Prescott, AZ.

 

NOW AVAILABLE!!!

Amazon Link

 

Related Links

Like Abe Lincoln, Be Prepared with a “Quip” or a Bit of Humor

Emulate Abraham Lincoln: Make Each Day Count

The “Secret” Daily Affirmations of Abraham Lincoln

Always greet everyone, no matter what they look like

Employ an Affable Lincolnesque Persona

Be a Generous Listener, as Abe Lincoln Was

Deflect Criticism with Self-deprecating Humor

Always Say “Yes”

Be a Master of Disaster – Ponder the big picture

 

 

Deflect Criticism with Self-deprecating Humor

January 28th, 2018

“Self-deprecating humor came naturally to Lincoln. Once, after being called ‘two-faced’ by another politician, he responded, ‘If I had two faces, why would I be wearing this one?’ ” Francis B. Carpenter, portrait painter of Lincoln.

Did I ever tell you the joke the Chicago newsboys had on me? Replying negatively, he related: A short time before my nomination I was at Chicago attending a lawsuit. A photographer of that city asked me to sit for a picture, and I did so. This coarse, rough hair of mine was in a particularly bad tousle at the time, and the picture presented me in all its fright.

  After my nomination, this being about the only picture of me there was, copies were struck to show those who had never seen me how I looked. The newsboys carried them around to sell, and had for their cry, “Here’s yer Old Abe; he’ll look better when he gets his hair combed.” Story told by Lincoln to Albert P. Chandler, Assistant Secretary of War.

_____

Acknowledge Your Flaws

Can you remember the last time someone made fun of you because of some physical characteristic that you had? None of us are immune. Aren’t we all too tall, too short, too fat, foo skinny, too young, or too old?

This type of comment seems funny to the critic, but it can sting the recipient.

Here is Lincoln’s two-step response for this type of criticism.

Step 1) Look deep inside yourself and acknowledge the fact that, yes, you do have certain physical characteristics that make you distinct. Maybe not as distinct as Quasimodo, but it’s something that catches the eye.

Step 2) Use self-deprecating humor to deflect criticism.

There is great power in looking inside of ourselves, acknowledging who we really are, and in making fun of ourselves.

Abraham Lincoln had a target on his back because he had two unique traits.

1) He was very tall and extremely thin. He stood six foot four inches tall and weighed only 170 pounds.

2) His face was so homely that it could frighten and intimidate others.

Yet, despite being called string bean, scarecrow and gorilla, Lincoln was bullet proof from this type of criticism because he was better and funnier at criticizing himself than were his adversaries.

A Story to Break the Ice

Lincoln was invited to speak to a conference of newspaper editors in Chicago, some of whom were his fiercest critics. To break the ice he told this story:

One day I was riding along a mountain trail on my horse.

From the other direction came a woman on her horse. She stopped her horse and looked at me.

“I do believe you are the ugliest man I have ever seen,” she said.

‘That may be true, madam, but there’s not much I can do about it,” I replied.

“No, perhaps not, but you might at least stay home.”

The audience of editors laughed with Lincoln instead of at him. Lincoln’s goal was not just to respond to criticism, but to show that he was a big enough man to laugh at himself, and in the process, disarm his critics and often win their friendship.

“Do I not destroy my enemies by making them my friends?” Lincoln once observed.

Responding to Frenemies

Recently, two so-called “friends” of mine made fun of me for being too skinny.

“Terry you looked like a broom wearing glasses,” said one person.

I LOOK LIKE WHO???

I LOOK LIKE WHO?

“Terry it’s so windy today, I’d better tie a sting to you before you fly away,” said the second one. Apparently no ‘funny’ criticism is too ancient to use.

Okay, I get it. I’m skinny. I used to be defensive about it, but over time I have come to see these comments as an opportunity to convert “frenemies” into friends, and I developed this reply,

“In my defense, my doctor told me that I weigh the exact right amount for someone this awesome.”

Another time, I was a substitute teacher at a school when one student said to another student,

“I’m working with the old guy.”

After glancing around the room and finding no one older looking than myself, I thought,

“He must be talking about me!”

The remark caught me off guard, but it also motivated to come up with a Lincoln-esque response. After some internet research, my new response to ‘old guy’ comments is,

“There is still no cure for the common birthday,” to quote John Glenn.

A Complete Inventory of My Flaws

Some other flaws that I proudly possess, beyond being rail thin, are: my industrial sized ears; I drink a lot of iced tea (I go through iced tea faster than most women go through cotton balls); one of my eyes looks slightly larger than the other (great to give someone the “evil eye” or to impersonate Jack Elam); and, my hair is disappearing faster than a toupee in a hurricane. My only hope for fame may be a possible spot at Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum.

When we acknowledge our flaws in humorous ways, it makes it easier for others to relate to us. It indicates that we have a light heart and a humorous outlook on life, and we become someone that other people like to be around. It’s like changing the friendship ‘stop light’ from red to green.

 

Upcoming Pesentations:

Feb. 10, 2018, International Speech Contest. Pen To Podium Toastmasters. Hardesty Center, 1100 S. Alvernon. Tucson, AZ, 9:00 am.

April 14, 2018. “Publish or Perish.” Pen to Podium Toastmasters. Hardesty Center, 1100 S. Alvernon. Tucson, AZ, 9:00 am.

October 20, 2018. How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny BonesPrescott Valley Public Library (7401 E. Civic Circle), 1:00 – 2:00 pm. Prescott, AZ.

 

NEW BOOK COMIMG SOON!!!

 

 

Related Links

Like Abe Lincoln, Be Prepared with a “Quip” or a Bit of Humor

Emulate Abraham Lincoln: Make Each Day Count

The “Secret” Daily Affirmations of Abraham Lincoln

Always greet everyone, no matter what they look like

Employ an Affable Lincolnesque Persona

Be a Generous Listener, as Abe Lincoln Was

Places in the Heart

Always Say “Yes”

Deflect Criticism with Self-deprecating Humor

Abe Lincoln and Inner Guidance – stay close to the “cave of the winds”

January 21st, 2018

Associaton of Lincoln Presenters Convention

 

“The name of the man had come to stand for what he was. In the ‘cave of the winds’ where he saw history in the making he was far more a listener than a talker. The high adventure of great poets, inventors, explorers, facing the unknown and the unknowable, was in his face and breath.” Carl Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln

“In traveling on the circuit, he was in the habit of rising earlier than his brothers of the bar. On such occasions he was wont to sit by the fire, having uncovered the coals, and muse, and ponder, and soliloquized, inspired no doubt by that strange psychological influence which is so poetically described by Poe in ‘The Raven.’ ” Lawrence Weldon, lawyer

“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” Oscar Wilde

“A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

_____

Testing Our Thoughts in Solitude

Lincoln was smart, but many of his peers had vastly more formal education and political experience than he. Lincoln’s success was a product of being better prepared than anyone else. He prepared himself by spending time in the “cave of the winds,” pondering the elusive questions of life.

Lincoln’s time in deep reflection allowed him to sort out the priorities of his life. He could move the chess pieces in the calm of these peaceful moments, before he had to do it in real life. Each move could be precisely calculated, leaving nothing to chance.

My Cave of the Winds

In my case, I like to go for a long bike ride early Sunday mornings, while most people are still in bed and the traffic is light. At the halfway point of my ride, I stop at Harold Bell Wright Park and I jot down ideas that pop into my head, ideas that answer puzzling questions I am wrestling with about my writing, about my speeches or about perplexing issues that I have in my life. I believe that separating myself from the familiar confines of my house, combined the accelerated blood flow to my brain from pedaling my bike, allow fresh ideas to enter my thoughts.

Harold Bell Wright Park

After I write down my ideas, I walk around the shady park. I imagine that I am in a sort of paradise, as I drink in the beauty and solitude, and even more ideas flow into the old noodle. For me, my bike rides are my “cave of the winds.”

I also get guidance for my life is in the neighborhood walks with my dog, Blackie. Other times I get creative thoughts from walking around a park or even walking around my own back yard. I occasionally take a section of a book that needs tweaking, to a local coffee shop where I sit in a quiet place, like Lincoln before the fireplace, to muse, ponder, and hatch fresh ideas.

Flashes of Inner Guidance

Occasionally, an idea will flash into my brain, like a pure and unfiltered message directly from my subconscious or intuition or spirit. I treat these messages, or “gleams of light’ as Emerson says, as pure wisdom and I attempt to act upon as rapidly as possible. If I ignore it, I may miss a great opportunity. If I follow it, endless new doors of opportunity can open up to me.

For example, after I had written my first book about Abraham Lincoln, I was searching the internet for organizations where I could give a speech about my book. I came across “The Association of Lincoln Presenters.” A perfect fit! They had a convention scheduled for April. Unfortunately it was already March, and they had their speakers lined up.

A thought popped into my brain, “contact the organizer.” In response to this prompt, I sent a note to the convention organizer,

I have written a new book on Abraham Lincoln entitled, “How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny Bones.” I think it is a perfect fit for the convention. I know you have speakers lined up, but if one of your speakers has to back out, I would be happy to come, at a moment’s notice.

The convention organizer responded,

We really don’t need any speakers at this point.

That was it. Short, sweet and seemingly offering no hope.

Illinois Ho!

Then, shortly before the convention, the organizer sent me another note:

Good morning; this is Abe Clymer host of the Lincoln convention in Vandalia. I have had a cancellation of one of my speakers for the convention. If you are interested please call me at area code 618-514-xxxx. I can probably allow you a 30 min. time slot at our symposium.    Honestly, Abe Clymer

Wow! I was on fire with anticipation! The convention offered no honorarium, but allowed me to sell my books at the hotel. I felt this was the opportunity that I could not pass up.

Abe and I in fromt of the Illinois State House

My son, Jason, and I jumped into the car and propelled ourselves toward Vandalia, Illinois, thoughts of adventure dancing in our minds. I made my speech at the exact State House of Representatives where Lincoln served as a state representative. Jason filmed my presentation and we sold a book to almost everyone who attended the convention. Afterwards, I posted video clips of my presentation on my blog.

That presentation gave a boost to my fledgling speaking career. It established my credibility and opened doors for other organizations to schedule me to speak. It put me on the proverbial map.

All because I followed that flash of inner guidance.

 

Upcoming Pesentations:

October 20, 2018. How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny Bones. Prescott Valley Public Library (7401 E. Civic Circle), 1:00 – 2:00 pm. Prescott, AZ.

 

NEW BOOK COMIMG SOON!!!

 

 

Related Links

Like Abe Lincoln, Be Prepared with a “Quip” or a Bit of Humor

Emulate Abraham Lincoln: Make Each Day Count

The “Secret” Daily Affirmations of Abraham Lincoln

Always greet everyone, no matter what they look like

Employ an Affable Lincolnesque Persona

Deflect Criticism with Self-deprecating Humor

Places in the Heart

Always Say “Yes”

Be a Generous Listener, as Abe Lincoln Was

January 14th, 2018

“Mr. Lincoln possessed extraordinary empathy – the gift or curse of putting himself in the place of another, to experience what they were feeling, to understand their motives and desires.” Doris Kearns Goodwin, Team of Rivals.

“Lincoln listened with the same energy that sparked his interest in books.” Charles B. Strozier, Lincoln’s Quest for Union: Public and Private Meanings.

“Lincoln’s favorite attitude when listening – and he was a good listener – was to lean forward and clasp his left knee with both hands.” Benjamin Perley Poore, journalist, author.

 “Each visitor was greeted with an encouraging nod and smile…. the President listening with the most respectful and patient attention.” Francis Fisher Browne, journalist.

_____

Abraham Lincoln’s listening skills were tied to his empathy for others. To be like Lincoln, we listen attentively to others and have compassion for their burdens. We cannot connect with people or care about them unless we are tuned to their wavelength.

MacGyver and Sons

My two sons are 19 and 22 years old. I speak to them as one adult to another, though it still seems strange to me. I still think of them as babies. I used to read them bedtime stories and change their diapers. My wife and I shared all the baby duties, but I drew the line at breast-feeding.

Now, if I want to be a constructive part of their lives, I have to listen to them. I do things with them that they like to do. I often assist them when they work on their cars. I also help them to cut through the bureaucratic red tape of life.

I represent a quirky MacGyver-type figure to my boys. They come to me for help to solve problems, or to tap into my extensive bank of knowledge (based on years of miscalculations and outright blunders).

I often just stroll into the boys’ rooms, sit on a bed, and chitchat with them about their daily activities – things like movies, or work, or their school (junior college), but sometimes they will open up to me about a concern they may have that I can help them with.

The key is to put myself in casual situations with my boys. This way, the communication channels are always open between us and our relationship continues to grow.

Fast and Furious in the Driveway

For example, my older son has always had an independent streak, He’s a rebel without a clue. Now, at 22 years old, he still lives at home but he, not surprisingly, doesn’t like to obey the rules. Specifically, when his car is blocked in the driveway, he drives on the front yard to extricate himself. He also rarely washes dishes and his room is messy. He has crossed the fine line between being “independent” and being “lazy.”

Each person in my family has a car, so we often have four cars in the drive way. It’s common for one of our cars to be blocked in. The problem is that my wife and I put plastic under the decorative rocks in the front yard. Driving cars on the front yard breaks the plastic, allowing weeds to grow.

My blood boiled when I saw him drive on the decorative rocks a few days ago. My first inclination was to shout, “Do not ever drive on the rocks again!” but that would only light his fuse.

Later in the day, with my affable personality firmly in place, I went into my son’s bedroom. He was playing video games. I sat on his bed. I could tell he was in a relaxed mood. After a few casual remarks, he said,

“Pop, when I’m in a hurry to go places and it feels frustrating to have my car blocked in the driveway. That’s why I drive on the front yard.”

“Instead of driving across the front yard,” I said, “you could:

1) Get the key and move the car behind you;

2) Tell me when you are blocked in and I will move the car behind you;

3) If you know you have to leave again, just park on the street where you won’t be blocked in.”

“Okay, Pop,” he replied, embracing his affable personality.

The affable listening approach, just as the pen, is mightier than any sword.

Write it Down

“A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory,” said Steven Wright. That describes the state of my wobbly memory. If I want to remember something I must write it down, or take a picture with the phone. Sometimes I do both.

When I talk to someone, their words fly through the space between my ears like laser guided missiles, unless I write them down. These are often important things to remember, such as, they are having surgery, taking a trip, or the names of brothers and sisters or spouses. I make a habit of writing down what people say, immediately after I speak to them (I always carry pen and paper in my pockets), then later I transfer that information for permanent storage in my Daily Journal.

For example, I write down my younger son’s junior college schedule class each semester, the first time he tells me. That way I can ask him how his class went, mentioning the correct class, each day. It makes him think that I am interested and that I have the memory of the Amazing Kreskin.

As a substitute teacher, I always write down the names of teachers and other people I meet (janitors, teacher assistants, and staff) and record pertinent information about them. This is particularly useful when I return to a school after a long absence teaching in other schools. I can use my notes to refresh my memory of the names of people I will be working with again.

Cary Grant – Listener Extraordinaire

Carry Grant had a richly deserved reputation as an actor who could genuinely listen to his co-stars.

Judy, Judy, . . .

The Atlantic Magazine (Jan/Feb 2007) reported,

“Cary Grant found a novel way to treat women in film: he clearly related to his heroine as a attractive woman—and also as a witty, intelligent, and idiosyncratic one. Often he conveyed this by adopting the strategy of simply listening to her. (With both his male and female costars, Grant would emerge as probably the best—that is, the most unobtrusively generous—listener in Hollywood.) The result was that Grant allowed the actress’s performance to emerge and flourish. He thus transformed his leading ladies ‘into comic goddesses’.”

Sure, any Tom, Dick or Harry can do a Cary Grant impersonation, but how many can match his finely honed listening skills?

Big Bang Listening Example

Here is a sparkling example of listening from The Big Bang Theory as Sheldon coaches Amy in the fine art of listening.

Transformative Listening

Like Cary Grant, Amy and Sheldon, we can transform the people that we speak with through our generous listening. The more generous we are, the more confidence and eloquence our friends will develop.

 

Upcoming Pesentations:

October 20, 2018. How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny Bones. Prescott Valley Public Library (7401 E. Civic Circle), 1:00 – 2:00 pm. Prescott, AZ.

 

NEW BOOK COMIMG SOON!!!

 

 

Related Links

Like Abe Lincoln, Be Prepared with a “Quip” or a Bit of Humor

Emulate Abraham Lincoln: Make Each Day Count

The “Secret” Daily Affirmations of Abraham Lincoln

Always greet everyone, no matter what they look like

Employ an Affable Lincolnesque Persona

Abe Lincoln and Inner Guidance – stay close to the “cave of the winds”

Deflect Criticism with Self-deprecating Humor

Places in the Heart

Employ an Affable Lincolnesque Persona

January 2nd, 2018

“Abraham Lincoln was liked by every person who knew him. He made himself useful in every way that he could. If the water-bucket was empty he filled it; if wood was needed he chopped it; he was always cheerful and in a good humor.” Caleb Carman, New Salem neighbor.

“It cannot be too often stated that cheerful friendliness was the most striking feature of his (Lincoln’s) personality.” Albert J. Beveridge, Abraham Lincoln 1809 – 1858.

_____

Treat Strangers Like Friends

I was walking my dog, Blackie, one morning. As I began to cross the street, a van suddenly appeared and was barreling towards me. The lady in a van stopped to let me cross. I thought it was my neighbor, Pat. I waved for her to go first, then I gave another wave and smile as she passed. As she went by I realized it wasn’t Pat, but rather, a complete stranger.

The remarkable point of this incident is that I can pretend that the people I meet are just like someone I already know and like. Then I find I have the same warm feelings for that stranger as I do for an old friend. If I project traits I know about a person I am acquainted with to a new person, I try harder to understand them instead viewing their actions in a negative light.

My friend, Mark, is a “type A” personality. He is capable of pushing himself to accomplish great things and he can be very kindly towards others, but he is also easily frustrated and angered when things don’t go the way he expected. When I meet someone with a personality like Mark, I know what buttons to push to make him smile and what buttons to avoid so he is not upset, based on my experience with Mark.

Forced to be Affable

As a landlord and owner of rental houses, recently my wife and I were really low on money (i.e., broke). We are always feel like we’re low on money, but this time the well was really dry. We maxed out our credit card to purchase a new air conditioner for a property.

Big Lou

On top of this, we had to pay for a hotel room for a tenant, when the old air conditioner went out and he and his family could not live in my rental house, due to the heat. This unexpected (No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!) combination of large expenditures hit us like a Lou Ferrigno-sized tsunami. I feared we might have to sell a rental house to get out of debt, something I have eluded because we are relying on the rental houses as a future source of retirement income.

We desperately needed new tenants in this house. We found two promising, albeit quirky, tenants. I was so motivated to avoid this financial cliff we were facing that I bent over backwards to keep the tenants happy. I assumed an exceptionally affable personality.

Affable Personas

My attitude was that the tenants could do no wrong, even though they did things that under normal circumstances would rub me the wrong way, such as: they had a dog in the house for a short period (no pets allowed); they paid the rent late; they didn’t transfer the utilities into their name; they were pushy in asking for minor repairs that they could easily do themselves. How hard is it to buy a $1.00 bathtub drain plug?

Yet, I maintained my amiable, easygoing attitude. Anything that happened, regardless of how shocking, I acted as if it was exactly what I had anticipated. My response was always, “No problem. We can handle that. It’s a piece of cake.”

Some typical tenant problems and my response:

“I have a leaky faucet.” No sweat. I’ll change the washer.

“The door is squeaking” I’m on it. Let me put some WD 40 on the hinge.

“I dropped a pencil on the floor.” Leave it to me. No project is too small.

Surprisingly, since I’m normally an intense worrier, this positive attitude grew on me like a barnacle on a ship. It has made me feel much more relaxed.

To Change the Present, Come Back From the Future!

In Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl wrote that we should live each moment as if for the second time. We recognize that we didn’t fully appreciate our experience the first time around and now have a chance to return to the moment and do it right (as mentioned in Lynne Spreen’s “Any Shiny Thing – Life After 50” Blog.)

Marty and Doc Brown

To come back from the future, we don’t need a time machine built from a DeLorean car like Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) in Back to the Future. Rather, the trick is to pretend like we are in the future, but we imagine we have traveled back to the present.

For example, I am 63 years old, but I imagine that I am really 83 and I have returned from the future to enjoy this day, as if for a second time. I take the things that happen as though it’s my last chance to see these people I love, in this stage of their lives. I imagine that I have already experienced this day once before and I focus on really treasuring the people and experiences in this second opportunity.

Putting My Affable Persona to the Test

In my adventures as a special education substitute teacher, I frequently come across kids with extreme anti-social behavior. Since all of the other teachers in the class (there can be three or four teachers in some classes) are already burned out from working with that one kid, I am usually paired up with him.

As I approach each new classroom, my thought is, “You never know what you are going to get. That’s the exciting part about life.”

Recently, I walked up to the classroom door and surprisingly, the door was locked.  I knocked. The teacher opened the door just a crack and shoved a boy at me. In an exasperated voice, she said, “This is Angel. Can you just watch him for a while? We have to get him out of this classroom. I don’t care what you do, just don’t let him hurt anyone.” The door closed and locked behind us.

10 Year Old Imp

I was alone in the school hall way with this 10-year-old imp who was just expelled from his classroom. Our eyes locked. My mind was churning with foreboding thoughts.

Suddenly, a continuous stream of expletives flew out of his mouth. He ran down the hallway ripping papers off bulletin boards and yelling insults at teachers and students he passed. I herded him into a teacher preparation room where I kept him blocked in, thinking it was be safer for everyone if I isolated from the rest of the school population. He threw papers, pencils and markers on the ground, put pens in the toilet, and taunted me with insults. His favorite name for me was “pink lips.”

Yet, I kept the Lincoln perspective firmly in mind and maintained my affable persona. I would chuckle at some of his over-the-top taunts, or reply to a particularly creative insulting name for me with, “That’s a good one.” I found a Goosebumps book in the prep room and started reading it out loud as I continued to try to neutralize Angel’s destructive efforts. He took an interest in the story and calmed down a bit.

I returned Angel to his classroom in a slightly better frame of mind than I got him, although that might have been because he just needed a rest. Yes, I was happy to be rid of him, but I was more pleased to have maintained my calm demeanor.

Later, I went home and kicked my dog. (Just kidding.)

An Affable Waiter

Let’s try to be as affable as the imperturbable waiter.

“I’m sorry, but I only have enough money for the bill. I have nothing left for a tip,” I once told a waiter.

“Let me add up that bill again, sir,” the waiter responded.

 

 

Upcoming Pesentations:

October 20, 2018. How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny Bones. Prescott Valley Public Library (7401 E. Civic Circle), 1:00 – 2:00 pm. Prescott, AZ.

 

NEW BOOK COMIMG SOON!!!

 

 

Related Links

Like Abe Lincoln, Be Prepared with a “Quip” or a Bit of Humor

Emulate Abraham Lincoln: Make Each Day Count

The “Secret” Daily Affirmations of Abraham Lincoln

Always greet everyone, no matter what they look like

Be a Generous Listener, as Abe Lincoln Was

Abe Lincoln and Inner Guidance – stay close to the “cave of the winds”

Deflect Criticism with Self-deprecating Humor